Archive for the ‘Analysis’ Category

Analyzing The Anomalous: Evan Turner vs. Boston

March 8, 2012 2 comments

Philadelphia is a cold city, only tolerant of athletes who consistently take advantage of the golden opportunity known as fame and fortune that’s placed at their feet. There is no pity, and certainly no forgiveness. Philadelphia sports fans hold a powerful voice, capable of convincing an underdog he’s so much more before he actually is, while simultaneously crippling a superstar into fearing a trip to his nearest McDonald’s drive-thru. They bankrupt the soul’s of their players by smothering them with support, and when those “heroes” stop producing, there damn well better be a good explanation.

When Philadelphia struck oil with the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the expectation was they’d receive a franchise lifting presence. Someone who could lead this basketball team where Andre Iguodala could not, and, dare I utter such blasphemy, pick up where the statue-justifying talent Allen Iverson left off.

Instead, they got Evan Turner. A player who’s not so great at anything, but OK at some stuff, and below average at the rest. His handle is impressive, yet loose. His jumper has yet to leave Ohio. A few days ago, legend had it that Turner’s lack of production had a mysterious explanation. Some didn’t care for the alien excuse, and instead just wanted the 23-year-old gone forever. The frustration Doug Collins, and by extension Philadelphia’s basketball fans, has experienced with Turner lies in his nondescript style. He’s a bench guy who every now and again will hit double figures and offer decent energy, yet barely leave an imprint on the game. Supporters will point to both his youth and the system he was drafted into as legitimate reasons why he’s yet to explode, and to be fair they’re half right. But after watching Turner play, and getting a little feel for the way he operates as the moving part on a team-oriented basketball team, you begin to ask yourself what exactly his ceiling is? Can he ever make an All-Star team? Does he need the ball in his hands to be successful? How does someone drafted second overall in the NBA draft look so ordinary each and every game?

In a way, a lot of perceptions shifted last night. Turner—fresh into the starting lineup after Jodie Meeks decided making shots was no longer something that interested him—slew the Green Celtic Dragon that’s caused so much 76er bloodshed these last four years. It was a remarkable performance for a player who’s so far been solid, if unspectacular in 117 NBA games. But of course, the question Philly fans began asking 10 minutes after the final buzzer was a semi-impressed, Can he do it again? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.   Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Dominic McGuire vs. Atlanta

On Wednesday night, in a tight road win against Atlanta, Warriors forward Dominic McGuire posted one of the most unrepeatable stat lines we’ve seen this season. In 36 minutes the oft-used bench player took one shot, missed one shot, and grabbed 15 rebounds. He’s gone scoreless in 15 of his 30 appearances this season so there’s no real surprise there, but for him to be SO productive on the defensive end—in a game where Atlanta scored 82 points on 33.7% shooting—while being SO ignored on offense, is quite miraculous.

Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Derrick Williams vs. Los Angeles Clippers

When people look back at Derrick Williams’ career, this is the game they’ll say started it all. It was, in a nutshell, the definition of a breakout performance. With Minnesota’s two best players—one of them serving as his generation’s model of consistency–experiencing a rare night off, Williams stepped up in a monstrous way, helping his team defeat a division leading championship contender on the road. Williams’ night wasn’t just impressive by a rookie’s standards. It was the most efficient game a player’s had all season. The fact that it happened to be produced by a rookie just opens everyone’s eyeballs a little wider.

Despite putting up disappointing per game averages of 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds, relegating this game as an aberration would be short sighted. While he may never see a similarly flawless night for the rest of his career, this should be more representative of what he’s capable of doing on a regular basis than the single digit scoring clunkers we witnessed throughout the season’s first half. Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Ersan Ilyasova vs. New Jersey

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

The “Analyzing The Anomalous” feature was created for performances like this one—unlikely showings put on by the league’s most secluded players; in a nutshell, they force fan conversation and prove evident why basketball’s unpredictable nature makes it such an intriguing sport.

After his 19 rebound performance earlier this year, I immediately placed Ersan Ilyasova on my radar as a prime writing topic. All I needed was the right time to pounce, and last night against the Nets couldn’t have been more convenient. It was one of the most unlikely, spectacular box scores a player has posted this season, and unfortunately it came on the same day Jeremy Lin dropped a 28 point, 14 assist gem against Dallas, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to score 231 points in the crushing of Denver’s soul, and Serge Ibaka put himself in pole position for second place among all Defensive Player of the Year candidates with a triple double that included 11 blocks. That sucks. Here’s my attempt at shining a bit of light on Ilyasova’s performance, as well as highlighting how he’s been doing this year in the shadows of Milwaukee. Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Rajon Rondo vs. Chicago

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment


When compiling a list of the league’s most polarizing players, with thoughts based purely on skill and not off the court intangibles, Rajon Rondo must be near the top. If not first, then second or third. The jumper is a tired subject of conversation. His struggles are well documented in that area and he’s become too good of a player to have it outweigh his many strengths when discussing what he does and does not bring to a basketball team. This season Rondo’s great dichotomy has come more from overall inconsistent play. It’s gotten so bad that comparing him to Chris Paul, a player who ALWAYS seems to come through for his team in the fourth quarter, and Derrick Rose, a walking stick of 20 point dynamite (on an off night), has become a futile argument. Still, he’s the most promising triple double candidate since Jason Kidd, and, despite the shafting he received due to missing a few games with that wrist injury, a perennial All-Star in the Eastern Conference.

If I look like a flip-flopper in discussing Rondo’s skill, that’s the entire point. At times he’s GREAT, but sometimes Boston fans are left wondering whether trading him is really such a bad idea.

Let’s look at what he did Thursday night against Chicago. Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Andrew Goudelock vs. Atlanta

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment


Who is Andrew Goudelock? Well, to start this answer, he was selected 46th overall in last year’s NBA draft. Today he’s playing out of his natural position for one of the most scrutinized organizations in all of sports, yet he doesn’t seem fazed.

Goudelock thrives in chaos, excelling when nothing around him is going according to plan. When the shot clock is winding down or there’s a sudden turnover and everyone’s out in transition. It’s a wonderful indication of mental toughness, and a sign he’ll be a factor in this league for quite some time. With Kobe Bryant having a rare off night in last night’s victory over the Hawks, Goudelock gave L.A. about one quarter of impact offense. Let’s analyze. Read more…

Analyzing The Anomalous: Jason Thompson vs. Oklahoma City

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Last night was the fifth game in a row (seventh time total) this season that the Kings began a contest with Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, DeMarcus Cousins, and Jason Thompson on the court. Their overall record so far with this starting lineup is 6-1. Deducing from the fact that the first four guys mentioned are regular starters, Jason Thompson—an overlooked (going by Synergy’s defensive PPP numbers, Thompson is one of the 50 best defenders in basketball), 6’11″ workaholic—would appear to be the team’s greatest variable; the x-factor who quietly grabs big rebounds, take shots when they’re warranted, and has found a way to fit in on the league’s most overlapped roster.

Here’s how he contributed in last night’s game against the Thunder—his team’s biggest win of the season.

Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Paul George vs. Dallas

February 4, 2012 1 comment

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like PG gave us from both ends of the floor.”

This is what Frank Vogel had to say about Paul George: the number one reason he enjoys waking up every morning to coach the Indiana Pacers. With George Hill out indefinitely, George’s development process might have been placed on the entrails of a jet engine. His outside/inside ability is unique, as is his ability to defend multiple positions and seemingly thrive in nearly every aspect of the game. Following the peaks of his career could be one of the nicer things we have to look forward to as NBA fans these next 5-7 years.

Something about last night’s game (apart from the 30 points with 7 threes) makes it feel like we were witness to the baptism of a truly significant basketball player. While people pick holes in Indiana’s brilliantly patient roster building strategy and speculate as to what high profile superstar they’ll either trade for or sign with all their cap space, Paul George is right beneath their noses. After last night’s game, it feels like we’re waiting for the inevitable as opposed to a possibility. Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Anderson Varejao vs. Boston

February 1, 2012 1 comment

In Shaky Ankles’ new feature “Analyzing The Anomalous”, I’ll be taking a look at a random player’s most recent performance—either fantastic or dreadful—and breaking down how it is they did what they did by way of advanced statistics and the always helpful Synergy Sports resource. The posts will begin with a rundown of the chosen player’s basic stat line, before bullet points are used to complete the examination.

On Sunday evening, as the Cavaliers roared back behind their valiant rookie’s unofficial coming out party, we saw one of this season’s five worst fourth quarter collapses take place in Boston. Irving was fantastic, most notably for his jaw-dropping game winner (if there were ever a reason to believe the Big 3 era has come to an end, a 6’4″ rookie slicing their defense to a million itsy-bitsy pieces in a one point game is it) and brief ability to make everyone in that city forget who LeBron James ever was. But the real catalyst on that  comeback goes on the shoulders of a man who may be the league’s most underrated player. He was everywhere, taking charges, keeping possessions alive, forcing every Celtics fan watching the game to wish that one day a mysterious home invader would ruin one of his lavish two-a-day bathtub sessions by dropping a plugged in microwave on his lap. Varejao personifies the type of player you hate if he isn’t on your team, and guy you’d die for if he is.

Somehow, someway, Varejao upstaged Sunday’s fourth quarter performance with an entire game’s worth of play that’d humble the creators of Red Bull. Here’s what happened. Read more…

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Markieff Morris vs. Milwaukee

January 10, 2012 1 comment

In Shaky Ankles’ new feature “Analyzing The Anomalous”, I’ll be taking a look at a random player’s most recent performance—either fantastic or dreadful—and breaking down how it is they did what they did by way of advanced statistics and the always helpful Synergy Sports resource. The posts will begin with a rundown of the chosen player’s basic stat line, before bullet points are used to complete the examination.

The NBA’s most surprising team from this weekend was the undervalued, unappreciated Phoenix Suns. Playing like a group of veterans who understand their positions, utilize their strengths, and run from their weaknesses, the Suns bulldozed the revamped Portland Trailblazers and smacked Milwaukee in the face with a frying pan. Obviously, this situation is a surprising one, and plopping a cherry on top is their first round draft pick Markieff Morris. Here’s some analysis from a recent victory over Milwaukee.

Markieff Morris vs. Milwaukee. Phoenix won 109-93. 30 minutes, 13 points on 5-10  shooting (including 3-4 from beyond the arc), 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 personal foul. 

  • Morris played 29:40 minutes off the bench. The most for any player who participated in the game.
  • He was a shocking (at least to me) 3-4 from deep while taking just one shot at the rim and missing it. This is interesting for several reasons, and the “wait a second…Markieff Morris is a three-point threat??” factor sits comfortably at the top. He shot 42.4% on 59 attempts in his final year at Kansas (his twin brother, Marcus, was 10% less accurate on 20 more attempts), but still, to expect his emergence as yet another reliable spot up option surrounding Steve Nash so soon in his career is very fun to think about.
  • Up 25 points late in the third quarter, Morris used a Gortat screen to flash high across the free-throw line. He received a pass about 22 feet from the basket and launched a jumper with 12 seconds remaining on the shot clock. The shot rimmed out, but that isn’t the point. It’s only one play so there’s no need to nitpick, but Morris seemed to decide he was settling on the long two before considering any other options.
  • Upon entering the game for Channing Frye with 7:19 remaining in the 3rd quarter, the Suns immediately went on a 13-2 run and effectively ended the game.
  • Posting up on a few separate occasions, Morris looked a combination of rushed and deliberate. He either didn’t want to put the ball on the floor and immediately leaned on a turn around jumper, or went straight to something he was comfortable with and attempted a minimized jump hook. He displayed extremely soft touch on every shot he took, and it’d be wonderful for both him and Phoenix if Morris can simultaneously add tranquility and creative flair to his game. Or maybe that’s asking too much. He gets to his spots, plays the game like a knowledgeable vet, and could soon develop into one of the game’s more reliable high-low offensive options.
  • His three-pointers came by way of defenses overloading on Steve Nash penetration; almost as more a lack of respect for his ability more than fear of Nash doing what he does. If Morris continues to hit on this shot, strategies when facing Phoenix will have to change.
  • He was second on his team in offensive efficiency with 1.3 points per possession (only the impossibly accurate Marcin Gortat, on his 9/10 shooting night, was better).
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